"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

News of the Day – 3/11/09

With the nation’s economy in the tank, and our best player on the DL, we could all use a good laugh. So, today’s news is powered by the late, great George Carlin:

  • It appears the Yanks are beholden to Ransom:

As for acquiring a fill-in for Rodriguez, Cashman said again on Tuesday that he is not actively searching. “I’m not optimistic about doing anything,” he said. “I’m not going to be proactive in trying to do something.” Cody Ransom, a 33-year-old journeyman, is in line to step in for Rodriguez. “With the team not wanting add payroll, not wanting to hurt the farm system and stuff like that, and we’re going to get Alex back, we’re going to go with what we have in camp,” Cashman said.

  • The Captain has been getting to know the BoSox’ Pedroia and Youkilis, and it appears to be a mutual admiration society:

“You get to know guys playing against them, as players,” Jeter said. “But one of the good things about something like this is you get an opportunity to put personalities with the players.” Previously, Pedroia and Youkilis had only spent time with Jeter as part of last year’s AL All-Star team. … “I like to keep it loose and have fun,” Pedroia said after yesterday’s workout at Rogers Centre, where Team USA resumes play tomorrow night, having already clinched a berth in this weekend’s second round in Miami. “I think [Jeter] kind of laughs at me the whole time. He probably thinks I’m crazy.” Youkilis said he has always respected Jeter, but spending the past week with him has taken that admiration to another level. “[Jeter] has been unbelievable, and you see why he’s the captain of the Yankees,” Youkilis said.

The recently retired right-hander was a special guest visitor at Yankees camp on Tuesday, escaping the Pennsylvania cold for a vacation and some fun in the sun. He has no regrets about his decision to walk away from the game. “I’m doing nothing,” Mussina said, grinning. “And when I walked through the weight room, I knew why I’m doing nothing. I feel good being retired.” As he would later reveal, Mussina knew last spring that 2008 would be his final season. There was no point during the offseason that he thought about changing his mind, he said, and even when pitchers and catchers began reporting to Spring Training camps, Mussina found himself content. … Mussina’s former corner locker is now occupied by CC Sabathia, and Mussina greeted his replacement, calling him “Mr. Sabathia” and telling him to keep the space.

In the short term, winning is marketing. Much of the complaining about seat relocations, public handouts to billionaires paying millionaires and a cheating superstar, can be overlooked if the Yankees win. But as defined by Yankee fans, winning means winning it all. Long term, is what the Yankees are selling out of step with the zeitgeist? Tom Van Riper wonders, “Sure, the economic slump will only last so long, but some experts think the shock and suddenness of the global financial crisis may have shifted consumer attitudes permanently. For all but the wealthiest, the luxury sports experience could be out for a long time. That means a lot of $1,000 tickets and personal seat licenses could go unsold and unpopulated for a very long time.” That, not A-Rod, is the Yankees’ biggest problem.

  • The well-respected Jim Kaat has a blog over at YES, and he had this to say about the A-Rod steroid situation:

When I went down to the Dominican Republic’s World Baseball Classic team practice before A-Rod opted to shut it down for the tournament and have hip surgery, I got to talk to him a little bit. He came right up to me and said, “I really appreciate your support and I was hoping to run into you and thank you.” I told him right back that he’s an easy target, and it’s easy to pile on to the situation. I went on to tell him that I had a conversation with Bob Gibson, and we both agreed that in my playing day, if these things were readily available, we would have all been tempted to use them. I wish him a speedy recovery, and he is missed in the WBC event.

  • Jayson Stark compares and contrasts the off-season moves of the BoSox and Yanks, and seems to think the Beantowners did just fine:

But the Red Sox’s additions were products of a whole different philosophy, not just a whole different checking account. The four free agents they imported — John Smoltz, Brad Penny, Takashi Saito and Rocco Baldelli — cost this team 4 million fewer guaranteed dollars ($12.5 million total) than the Yankees will pay Burnett alone this year. Nevertheless, the upside of those men gives the Red Sox four potential impact players without the price tags, or long-term inflexibility, that come with handing out contracts that run through 2016.

  • Kevin “don’t call me Pokey …. or Della” Reese turns 31 today.  Reese accumulated 13 ABs over the ’05 and ’06 seasons with the Yanks.
  • Paddedwallaphobic Bobby Abreu turns 35 today.  To show you how far the Rays have come as an organization, they took the 23-year-old prime prospect Abreu in the 1997 expansion draft, but immediately dealt him to the Phils for the good fielding, mediocre-hitting 27-year-old SS Kevin Stocker.  Stocker was out of baseball by age 31.
  • The late Dock Ellis would have been 64 today.
  • On this date in 1956, at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg, Mickey Mantle hits a Grapefruit League pitch from Larry Jackson over the left field wall into the bay. The Yankees top the Cardinals 4 – 3. Stan Musial contends, “no home run has ever cleared my head by as much as long as I can remember.” Mantle will hit another at Al Lang Field on March 20 off Bob Mave that also lands in the water, and will clock a 500-foot shot in Miami four days later against the Dodgers.
  • Speaking of Mickey, on this date in 1960, he signs a one-year contract worth $65,000. The new deal is a $7,000 cut in pay for Mantle, who batted .285 with 31 home runs and 75 RBI for the Yankees in 1959.
  • On this date in 2001, the Bombers formally announce the signing of Cuban defector Andy Morales, a third baseman, to a four-year contract. Morales will wash out and be waived from his minor league team by July. The Yankees will try and sidestep his contract with proof that his listed age of 26 years is really 29.
  • On this date in 2002, the Yanks release Ruben Rivera for stealing Derek Jeter’s mitt out of his locker, and selling it on the black market for $2,500. There are rumors that Rivera also took other memorabilia items, such as things belonging to Roger Clemens, but Clemens denies it. Rivera had been signed to a one year contract for $1 million.

Categories:  Diane Firstman  News of the Day

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1 williamnyy23   ~  Mar 11, 2009 8:12 am

The Stark article was inane to say the least. It probably hasn't dawned on Stark, but if the Red Sox wind up only paying the guaranteed total of $12.5 million, it's likely because all four failed miserably or never recovered from their injuries. In that light, the Yankees will have been much better off with Burnett.

The total price tag for the four players mentioned by Stark could range between $35-40mn (based on roster and performance bonuses). Personally, I'd rather spend that money on guys like Sabathia and Teixeira and not have to cross my fingers.

2 ny2ca2dc   ~  Mar 11, 2009 8:38 am

Anyone catch an article about Moose's visit that has a picture? I miss Moose already, really loved that guy. Smarmy SOB.

Nice to see some sane comments from Kaat, another guy I miss.

Stark had a stupid column, what a surprise. "Reasoning FAIL"

I wish I had caught the WBC game - I was trying to get it on MLB.tv, but it kept saying I had to buy MLB.TV to see it - is MLB seriously charging people to watch the WBC games on MLB.tv? wtf?

3 ms october   ~  Mar 11, 2009 8:49 am

stark takes stupidity to another level.

i miss moose too. and his wit.

i watched from the 5th inning on of the dr/netherlands game.
i thought the netherlands original rf might have played the ball that bautista hit better (he seemed to make decent reads on a lot of the warning track hits the dr had), so i was happy that the rf who misplayed it a bit was able to atone by scoring the winning run.

[2] what cable do you have ny2ca2dc? i get mlbtv for "free" - i suppose as part of whatever package i have - but i don't get any other chanels like the nba or nfl network.

4 Mattpat11   ~  Mar 11, 2009 8:53 am

I wonder how long it took Jeter to realize ol 4'6" Dustin Pedroia wasn't the clubhouse boy.

5 williamnyy23   ~  Mar 11, 2009 9:01 am

[2] [3] I think ny2ca2dc was trying to watch the game on the computer. Yes, MLB.com does charge for access to MLB.tv. I am not sure I blame them either.

[3] That was Eugene Kingsale, who kicked around with several MLB teams. At one point, he was a well thought of prospect with the Orioles.

6 Bum Rush   ~  Mar 11, 2009 9:08 am

WTF is Cashman's problem with the bench? Seriously, why is he such a dipshit when it comes to backups? So we get to watch Ransom AND Berroa get at-bats in real games? Great!

7 Bum Rush   ~  Mar 11, 2009 9:10 am

Personally, I’d rather spend that money on guys like Sabathia and Teixeira and not have to cross my fingers.

And we're not crossing our fingers now? About A-Rod, and Burnett, and Jorge, and Matsui, and Cano, and Jeter, and Damon, and Swisher, and...

8 williamnyy23   ~  Mar 11, 2009 9:17 am

[6] Whom should the Yankees have signed to be their backup infielder? I can just imagine a potential swing man looking at Arod, Jeter, Cano and Teixeira and wondering when he'd ever get into a game.

[7] The Yankees aren't crossing their fingers about Teixiera and Sabathia, two important additions that could help them overcome some early season injuries. How would things look if the Yankees additions had the health profile of the Red Sox' acquisitions? Besides, Boston is also crossing its fingers about Varitek, Oritz, Lowell and Drew, not to mention Beckett and whomever slots in as their 5th man. If one or two from that group falters due to injury, the Red Sox will need their injured acquistions to step up and play a major role.

9 Mattpat11   ~  Mar 11, 2009 9:19 am

[8] There really is no reason at all to consider Berroa at all, though.

10 ms october   ~  Mar 11, 2009 9:20 am

[2] [5] oh - missed that it was online

well, one of the good things about the dr losing is marte won't be overworked and cano get in more work with long and some practice with tex. it might not be that big of a deal, but it can't hurt from them to get used to each other a bit - i still remebmer that ridiculous play last year where cano and betemit practically watched a ground ball go between them and mo looked at them both with a death stare. and cano hasn't played with a 1b with any kind of range in who knows how long.

[6] i agree with you to an extent bum rush. upgrading the uif is needed. obviously with the injury moreso. but for the most part the yanks have had entrenched players and the bench players were not going to get many abs - that has to be a deterrent.

11 williamnyy23   ~  Mar 11, 2009 9:22 am

[9] If Berroa makes the team as a temporary back-up infielder, what's the big deal? Whomelse do you think would be a significant improvement?

12 Shaun P.   ~  Mar 11, 2009 9:25 am

Kaat, in the post Diane linked above, also had some comforting words about Joba, too. I shouldn't be surprised, but he's an outstanding writer/blogger. Its nice to be able to read him.

I was sad to see Italy eliminated, but I still can't believe the DR lost twice to the Netherlands. Absolutely amazing.

13 Bum Rush   ~  Mar 11, 2009 9:26 am

Whom should the Yankees have signed to be their backup infielder?

There are at least five players to be had now who are better than Berroa. Then of course there are more than that who were available last month. You're smart. Good luck with your research. We'll compare lists when you're done.

If one or two from that group falters due to injury, the Red Sox will need their injured acquistions to step up and play a major role.

That's a whole lot of if's. The Yankees have exactly zero room for error. They were a third place team and Sabathia merely replaces Moose while Teixeira doesn't replace Giambi AND Abreu. Plus the Sox have much better depth in AAA (Anderson, Carter, Kottaras) and flexibility on the big club (Youkilis). They were filling minor holes this off-season (coming one game short of the Series w/o Lowell or Ortiz healthy). And Anderson is a beast.

14 Mattpat11   ~  Mar 11, 2009 9:29 am


I've heard "whats the big deal if [terrible baseball player] makes the team in [minor role] for years and years with this team. Almost without fail [terrible baseball player] gets ridiculous amounts of playing time.

I'd be fine if all else failed, they even got an Alberto Gonzalez type as the backup infielder. Use someone that has some sort of skill over someone that has none.

15 Bum Rush   ~  Mar 11, 2009 9:32 am

but for the most part the yanks have had entrenched players and the bench players were not going to get many abs - that has to be a deterrent.

I call BS. Every season requires a decent bench. And I can't remember the last time the Yankees had one. But I can remember a whole lot of below replacement level players over the past few seasons.

If Berroa makes the team as a temporary back-up infielder, what’s the big deal?

Seriously, you're okay with one tweaked hamstring leading to an infield starting Ransom AND Berroa? I can't wait!

16 Raf   ~  Mar 11, 2009 10:10 am

They were a third place team

A 3rd place team due to off years from Melky, Cano, Jeter, and injuries to Posada, Matsui & Wang. What are the odds of the team replicating that? And to boot, the team has improved defensively. I'd be willing to take my chances with this squad.

I’ve heard “whats the big deal if [terrible baseball player] makes the team in [minor role] for years and years with this team.

And for years and years, they made the playoffs, only missing in 2008. Those scrubs that got "ridiculous amounts of playing time" didn't have much of an impact. When you have the caliber of players the Yanks have had in their lineup, it's going to be a significant step down.

17 ny2ca2dc   ~  Mar 11, 2009 10:15 am

[15] The Yankees did have a decent bench: Swisher/Nady, Melky/Gardner, Random, and Molina is a pretty good bench. Swisher/Nady is starter quality, and Melky/Gardner might be, the others are fine for their jobs. The problem is losing ARod exposed the lack of depth behind the ML bench, depth that in your example the Sawx do have. The Sawx, on the other hand, probably don't have the BP depth the Yanks do. (BTW, my feeling is that Molina is underrated on the whole: his 'hitting' is truly awful, but all of the fielding metrics say he's in another class defensively - so he ain't good, but he's not the below replacement killer he's made out to be. As always, the issue is when he plays too much.)

Maybe this is splitting hairs, but it is a real difference to have a good bench that is exposed by injury to the team's best player vs. having a shitty bench to begin with (typical of recent years past). I think the real problem here isn't assembling a ML bench, it's assembling a MiL system that has position players spread out in a pipeline - the way we do have with pitchers. It's hard, but I think Cash could do better in this area. I really liked the John Rodriguez signing for this reason, but similar IF depth wasn't to be found unfortunately. Cash was terrible at putting together bullpens for quite a while, but has that together lately, hopefully he'll be able to improve this area too. Of course if they had been more diligent in getting ARod's hip checked out in October they might have know about the fragility and signed a more capable backup (Wiggington, Crede, trade for Inge (who would also have added depth at C), etc.) but that's another issue...

But I would rather do nothing than pay in talent for someone who's ever so marginally better than Berroa. They'll probably just pick up the best of who's cut from other teams' camps, like the Moeller pickup last year.

[5] I think their marketing of the WBC would be better served by letting anyone and everyone see it over MLB.TV - at least until it's established!

18 Raf   ~  Mar 11, 2009 10:15 am

But I can remember a whole lot of below replacement level players over the past few seasons.

There have been below replacement level players every season, not just last year.

19 Mattpat11   ~  Mar 11, 2009 10:20 am

I think putting blackhole Wilson Betemit in 87 games last year controbuted to missing the playoffs. I don't think giving Sidney Ponson 100 IP over two separate years has contributed anything to playoff aspirations. Holding on to Kei Igawa for lord knows what reason hasn't helped anything. The idea that this team has absorbed lumps in the past so we should do it again is poor business.

If Angel Berroa was a "step down" in the sense that Cody Ransom is, that would be acceptable. Angel Berroa does nothing well. There's no reason to even try.

20 Raf   ~  Mar 11, 2009 10:31 am

The idea that this team has absorbed lumps in the past so we should do it again is poor business.

No, it's just the way things are. You can substitute "Wilson Betemit" with "Gerald Williams" or "Andy Fox."

Every team does it.

21 Raf   ~  Mar 11, 2009 10:32 am

"Every team does it."

Referring to having scrubs that get too much playing time, for whatever reason.

22 Mattpat11   ~  Mar 11, 2009 10:41 am

Betemit and Williams, at the very least, had some sort of skill you could point to to justify their presence . (Of course, Betemit was so horrible at everything else that it negated his ability to sort of hit righties)

What is Berroa's? He can't hit. He can't hit for average. He can't hit for power. He can't hit righties. He can't hit lefties. He can't field. He can't run. What purpose does he serve that can't be filled by a broom?

23 Diane Firstman   ~  Mar 11, 2009 11:24 am

So I'm glancing at this site, which I take a gander at once in a while when I need a little laugh ...

And I come across this good one ...
Dude (Looks Like a Nady)

Its not quite "Honey Nut Ichiros", but ...

24 Shaun P.   ~  Mar 11, 2009 11:37 am

I see two good reasons for the Yanks to wait to make a move to get a backup middle IF (or someone to play 3B for a month while Ransom remains the backup middle IF). As spring training draws to a close, guys without options (eg, Scott Moore of the O's) and who didn't win a job as an NRI will be set free, and will cost the Yanks nothing. Further, the 40-man roster is full. There isn't nearly as much chaff on there as there once was, so why be hasty? Unless they put A-Rod on the 60-day DL (can they do that retroactively?), or someone else (Edwar?) comes up long-term lame, they need to cut someone free to make room. (Note that Berroa is not on the 40-man, too, fortunately.)

Though I suppose, since he's out of options, Melky could be the guy let go to make room . . . but given such a choice (Melky vs Angel Berroa for a month or so), I can't see Cashman saying "Angel Berroa". In fact, unless an injury opens a 40-man slot, I can't see Cashman choosing Berroa over anyone on the 40-man. So I think we'll be safe from Berroa, at least.

25 williamnyy23   ~  Mar 11, 2009 12:01 pm

[13] Your condescension doesn't answer the question. I forgot that is your debate style, so I'll leave you alone.

[14] I understand your point, but I don’t think many people are lining up to a back-up infielder on the Yankees. Even if the Yankees overpay, I am sure most candidates look at the chance of limited playing time and decide that never getting to play isn’t the best way to enhance future value. I am not sure who the Yankees could get that is significantly better than Berroa, so I can’t get to upset if he makes the team.

26 zack   ~  Mar 11, 2009 12:02 pm

I would also like to add that the argument that the Red Sox have so many replacements is as flawed. The three guys that [13] pointed to are probably the WORST argument for flexibility you could cite. Anderson is a 1b who has never played above AA and is a "decent" fielder, Carter can hit, but is so atrocious in the field he hasn't been able to find a spot on the Sox, and Kottaras is a "offensive first" C who hasn't hit over .245 in the minors since 2006 and has barely cracked an .800 ops his whole minor league career.

If you call that depth, than fine, but those are either square pegs or a still developing prospect with no spot to play yet (a la Jackson for the Yankees). As you yourself so nicely said to William, try to find a better argument, "You’re smart. Good luck with your research. We’ll compare lists when you’re done."

27 williamnyy23   ~  Mar 11, 2009 12:03 pm

[17] That's a good point, but MLB.TV is probably more interested in using the WBC to drive its subs, as opposed to using its subs to drive interest in the WBC.

28 williamnyy23   ~  Mar 11, 2009 12:05 pm

[26] Exactly...just take a look at Sox super-sub Alex Cora and tell me how he is that much different from Berroa?

29 The Hawk   ~  Mar 11, 2009 12:13 pm

Hell I still can't believe the Yankees hung Bernie out to dry when he could have been great off the bench.

I've noticed watching the US team that I hate Youklis far, far less without that hideous goatee. I was watching a Yankees Classic on YES this fall and it was when Youklis was both clean-shaven and his batting stance was normal. It was like a different guy.

30 ny2ca2dc   ~  Mar 11, 2009 12:20 pm

[26] - [28] Cora is with the Mets now, I think. The Sawx IF depth comes from Lowrie/Lugo, and it's enviable. Mattpat makes a reasonable point that Berroa is the worst of the worst - hell, this guy is probably worse than Cairo. But if he's really as bad as we all think, they'll probably pick up an Estaban German off the scrap heap soon enough.

I think the Yanks have good OF depth, with Rodriguez and AJax and Melky/Gardner, and even reasonable C depth with Cervelli (damn broken wrist last year...), but the IF depth is really bad. Not even an Alberto Gonzalez at AAA to play 20 games throughout the year.

Question though, assuming ARod goes on the 15-day, doesn't that mean we're in for a 40-man crunch to get another IF on 25-man?

31 ms october   ~  Mar 11, 2009 12:26 pm

[30] i basically agree with your overall take and assessment - lowrie is enviable and the yank's infield depth is poor however, i doubt anyone wants to play lugo $9million to be a uif - which is what he probably is now. he was a failed starting ss for the red sox, so due to lowrie's performance lugo is now relegated to the bench - not the intended result of a 4yr/36 million contract.

32 williamnyy23   ~  Mar 11, 2009 12:26 pm

[30] I know, but many enlightened writers have written stories about what a key piece he was to the Sox' championship teams. I am also not sure having Julio Lugo (at the cost of $9mn no less) is enviable...his OPS+ of 65 and 78 in 2007 and 2008 combined with his usual poor defense is very Berroa-like.

33 RagingTartabull   ~  Mar 11, 2009 1:05 pm

welp looks like we're gonna have to try and unload CC...

/end sarcasm

34 PJ   ~  Mar 11, 2009 1:20 pm

[33] /sarcasm on

Or at least shift him to the eighth inning slot since he is obviously having trouble starting...

/sarcasm off


35 thelarmis   ~  Mar 11, 2009 2:59 pm

passed thru a bookstore for a quick minute today. on display, was a "Baseball For Dummies" book. the inset picture was Joe Morgan. perfect!

36 zack   ~  Mar 11, 2009 4:08 pm

[35] Perfect!

37 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Mar 11, 2009 4:10 pm

[35] thelarmis, you made my day with that one.

38 thelarmis   ~  Mar 11, 2009 4:17 pm

[36][37] Rock On!

39 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Mar 11, 2009 7:40 pm

[23] awesome..i love "What Would DeJesus Do" and "Too Lidge-it to Quit"

Mickey Mantle..anynoe know where to see some footage of Mantle on the web? Havn't checked mlb.com yet, but must be some film of him hitting a few bombs..wonder if anyone ever hit them farther..maybe Willie Pops Stargell? Strawberry? Frank Howard?

40 Diane Firstman   ~  Mar 11, 2009 7:57 pm


Google "Home Run Derby Youtube Mantle"

41 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Mar 11, 2009 8:11 pm

[40] Thanks, I forgot all about HR Derby. Mantle and Mays..eternal argument about who was better..my dad is a die-hard Yankee fan but claims Mays wins by a nose because of his D..

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver